Carroll, it is easier for me to navigate Bohemia in my mind because I was
born there, but anyone who gets good maps can do the same. But I will try
to provide a mental picture here that other may want to share.
The most predominant mountains that surround Bohemia, (and there are
geological speculations that Bohemia might be a huge crater rimmed by
mountains with the lowlands in the middle) are:
Lets start in the South-West with the Bohemian-Bavarian Forest which
has - to this day - pockets of Virgin forest and has become a National Park.
In Czech it is called Sumava. It is the natural border between Bavaria and
Bohemia. At the north end of this mountain range, the Eger river breaks
through springing from the Oberpfalz, Bavaria, and flowing to the East. This
is the Egerland-Oberpfalz connection and both sides spoke the same dialect
until the expulsion of the natives. The Eger River was an ancient trade
route to the East, towards the confluence with the Elbe River and from there
they shipped downriver to the North Sea. To the North of the Eger River is a
long stretch of mountains called the Erzbirge which translates to "Ore
Mountain" and in Czech it is called Kruzne Hory. These mountains were mined
in ancient times by Celts, later by Venetians for Iron Ore, Coal and Silver
from where the Joachimsthaler Silver-Thalers were coined. Joachimsthal
(Jachimov) has the same impact on Bohemia as perhaps Virginia City has on
Nevada. Where the coins were minted, the first mine was developed and
belonged to the German Fugger and Welser families who traded with the whole
world. This Bohemian Thaler is the base word for our US Dollar. The
Erzgebirge separates Bohemia from Saxony to the North and reaches to where
the Elbe River cuts through. At that confluence there is a most beautiful
area called the Elbsandsteingebirge, and some of these amazing Sandstone
formations remind me a bit of Sedona in Arizona or the "painted hills" of
Oregon. On the East Side of the Elbe River is the Isergebirge. They are
foothills to a large mountain range called "Riesengebirge" (the giant
mountains - but not as giant as the Alps) but they are the largest mountains
in Bohemia separating Bohemia from Silesia to the North. This mountain
range is called "Krokonos" in Czech and is in the "Sudeten Mountains"
which the area was given a collective name for all German settlements in
1938. The ring of these mountains separated the Bohemian lands from Germany.
The South East was more open towards Moravia and consequently to Austria in
the South. But to complete the theory of the "crater-rim," there is
actually another ridge, the so called Bohemian Moravian Ridge (between
Iglau and Bruenn) running SW to NE where you can find incredibly large caves
with stalagmites and stalagtites. And so, the lowlands of inner Bohemia is
indeed ringed by mountains.
Germans, being craftsmen, found flint stones and minerals in these
mountains to produce tools in the old days, they later produced plow shares
or weaponry from the iron ore, and later yet, they had a flourishing glass
industry where the famous Bohemian lead-glass was hand cut and shipped
throughout the world. Madame Curie found the pitch blende at Joachimsthal
for her discovery of Uranium. Don't forget that Bohemia is in the very
heart of Europe, it has always been at a cross road from East to West and
North to South and ancient people have traveled and settled this area since
the stone age.
Even today it is a very scenic area to visit and has hot springs
and mineral springs where spas developed and the tourist trade was always an
important source for business and employment. It is the beauty of this land
that attracted Germans and Czechs alike to settle in pockets of empty land
side by side. The Slavs arrived in the Bohemian plains when the Mongolian
hordes of the East drove them to the West. Mongolia experienced a little ice
age which forced them to leave their ancestral land and to seek warmer
herding plains. In wandering West they dislodged all other settlements on
their way and it created a huge "Voelkerwanderung" (wandering of peoples)
which is a story in itself, but it is the basis of how the Slavs came into
the Germanic regions as far as the Elbe River and in some instances as far
as Thuringia. There is a Slavic wedge in Frankish Realm of Charlemagne.
If you look at a map of German and Czech early settlements in Bohemia it
looks like a face with freckles all over Bohemia. It was only after the
Hussite wars that the Germans were pushed against the mountains. Ancient
Slavic people did not like to live in the mountains, they preferred to
settle in river valleys and plains, and this is where the language border
This is just a mini-tidbit of history, but perhaps it will serve as
an appetizer to read more of the land from where your ancestors came from.
I caution you that each ethnic group has their own version of their own
history, and it is wise to read both sides to arrive at a middle. Both
ethnic groups have enriched Bohemia, they depended on one another for trade
and for food, and they would have peacefully co-existed in their mutual need
of one another, if it would not have been for greedy political and religious
manipulations from elsewhere.
Get a good geographical map and read up on the many beautiful areas of
the Bohemian homeland of your ancestors.
--- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 11:52 PM
Subject: [GERMAN-BOHEMIAN] Birth Certificates from Austria-Hungary
Aida, once again you have dazzled me with your knowledge of the
Bohemian area of the Czech Republic.
Just when I became somewhat acquainted with terms such as Sudetenland,
Erzgebirge, etc. you mention Elbsandsteingebirge and Isergebirge.
While reading your message I began to wonder how many different
areas surround the outer borders of the Czech Republic.
Is it appropriate to ask for a list of the names of these various
I ask this question cautiously because during my earlier years of doing
genealogy I once asked for a list of the names of the various
that once comprised what is now Germany. I was informed that, at one
were about 350 different jurisdictions and, surely, I didn't want to know
names of all of them.
To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
GERMAN-BOHEMIAN-request(a)rootsweb.com with the word 'unsubscribe' without
the quotes in the subject and the body of the message